Despite staff cuts the UK Border Agency has managed to deport over 250 illegal immigrants from the Midlands area of the UK in just two months, according to the Birmingham Mail this week.
They were removed from the West Midlands, Warwickshire and West Mercia during a major campaign by the UK Border Agency.
Since May 8 this year, officers from the agency’s Solihull base have stepped up efforts to find, arrest and detain foreign nationals who have overstayed their limited leave to remain visas – e.g. overseas students.
They tracked down 102 visa overstayers and 154 other immigration offenders were arrested and removed following unannounced visits by UK Border Agency officers.
Raids on homes and business addresses took place across the region, including Birmingham, Coventry, Rugby, Wolverhampton and Worcester.
Most of those removed were from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. But EU nationals from Romania are also working illegally without the required permission.
Bulgarian and Romanian citizens are subject to restrictions on working in the UK and cannot be employed in the same way as other EEA nationals. UK work restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, were extended until the end of 2013 by the government last November.
Employers who fail to carry out the proper checks on migrant workers, including Bulgarians and Romanians, risk a fine of up to £10,000.
The figures include foreign nationals removed by force, those who left voluntarily after being contacted by the UK Border Agency and others who were been cross-checked against an online database.
Alice Hopkins, UK Border Agency Midlands and East deputy director, said: “Our message to those people with no right to be in the UK is that they must leave.
“If they volunteer to leave and co-operate with us, we will help and provide support.
“But, as this campaign makes clear, if they refuse, we will enforce their removal.
“We are creating a hostile environment for illegal migrants. Anyone who overstays their visa should be in no doubt that they will be found, arrested and removed from the UK.
“We know where students not complying with their visas are and we are taking action against those not entitled to be here.”
The UKBA advises that anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously.
UK Immigration Minister Damian Green recently responded to an inspection report by the Independent Chief Inspector for borders and immigration, John Vine, on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight local immigration team.
In his report Mr Vine criticised the UK Border Agency for failing to deal with thousands of visa overstayers.
The report claims that there are at least 150,000 illegal immigrants in the UK who have been refused right of abode but says the UK Border Agency has no idea where they are and neither does it have a coherent strategy to tackle this problem.
The scale of the backlog and the fact that the agency does not know where these immigrants are make this a “national problem”, the report said. These immigrants usually enter the UK through legitimate routes such as student visas and then continue to stay on even after their visa has expired.
“There are over 150,000 cases nationally of migrants who have been refused an extension of stay in the UK,” said Mr Vine. “The Agency does not know how many of these individuals have left the country or are waiting to be removed.”
This month the UK Border Agency announced important changes to the way applications from visa overstayers will be treated.
Starting 1 October 2012, if you have overstayed your leave or permission to stay in the UK by more than 28 days any application for further leave will be automatically refused.
Immigration Advisers Bison Management has dealt with many cases of migrants who have overstayed their visa period. Bison Immigration Adviser Cynthia Barker said:
‘Overstaying applicants are normally automatically refused unless there is a strong case for a human rights appeal or for instance where they are in a relationship or have a child with British or EEA national.
‘Many of the cases are dealt with on an ‘outside the rules’ basis or go to a full appeal at the First Tier Tribunal.’
Cynthia has helped many companies avoid a £10,000 fine by carrying out immigration audits on all staff files. She added:
‘Employers who employ migrant workers on working, dependant or student visas should have a system in place to monitor visa expiry dates, as the government is targeting illegal working.
‘Busy managers and owners are not always aware of the ever changing Immigration Rules on Tier 2 working visas, student visas, dependant visas and EU workers from Bulgaria and Romania who need permission to work.
‘Student visa rules on working hours and dependant’s entitlement to work have changed and many students or their dependants are working illegally because the employer has not bothered to check their visas.
‘My advice is to call in a professional to do a complete audit on all staff files before the UKBA walks in and does it for you.’
If you have overstayed, need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:
Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.
For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org